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Email Marketing: Why it still works

Date Posted: Sunday, 11 August 2013 16:38
Posted By: Kerry Butters

So far in our Digital Marketing series, we've looked at Content Marketing, SEO, SEM and Social Media. In this post we take a look at Email Marketing:

As social has risen, so have many people’s assumptions that email as a marketing tool doesn’t work anymore, but this is actually far from the case. In fact, a recent report showed that as many as 77% of consumers prefer to receive marketing emails above social and SMS.

email-marketing

In many cases, this is because the consumer has opted-in, so they are receiving email that they actually want, rather than stumbling across it on a social network. Whilst social does of course have its uses, a marketing plan without email is an incomplete one, which misses out on sales.

Email lists and repeat business

Have you ever seen a website without some form of call-to-action that can help build an email newsletter list? From simple boxes inviting users to sign up for a newsletter, to complex forms for downloading reports and articles, all exist for a reason.

This is to build up a good list. Furthermore, previous customers are easier to sell to than new ones, so delivering email on a regular basis to these with great offers and content is worth taking the time over.

By building an email list, you can enhance sales and traffic, familiarise recipients with your brand and keep your site to the front of the mind. Of course, this means that the mail has to deliver value to the user in some form, whether that be a special offer, discount codes or useful content.

Email is also a cheap form of marketing, without the need for postage and extra staff. It’s also a great way to connect with overseas customers, giving you the chance to further expand operations abroad.

Personalizing the email experience

One thing that social has taught us is that people like marketing communications to be friendly and if possible, personal. Whilst it may seem like a huge task to personalise email according to what customers have bought in the past, for example, a good CMS can help with this.

A solid database can perform all sorts of functions and by targeting your customer so precisely, can really boost sales and traffic. Think about how Amazon do this and you will see what I mean, how often do you get email from the retail giants suggesting books you might like, or movies to your taste?

This is an area of email marketing that is really coming to the fore right now, so it’s worth looking into and seeing if your current CMS can do this, or be adapted to do it.

It’s vital to target an email audience specifically too, as any competent marketer will already know. Knowing your audience means less unsubscribes, or avoids the mail being marked as spam.

Effective email marketing depends on knowing who you are addressing and with this in mind, it’s useful to divide databases into segments. These can have different information, such as people who have bought products and those who have signed up for the newsletter.

As you can see, this means that you can target better with email offers, as someone who has bought from you before might be interested in free delivery, whilst those who haven’t would benefit from discount codes.

Effective email marketing

As well as the above, a successful email marketing campaign should give the customer what they want. This may be different to what the company wants so it’s worthwhile doing demographics and analysis in order to discover what best to deliver to the customer.

This means keeping a track of responses to all of your marketing efforts to find out what works and what doesn’t. Think about why customers use your site, is it strictly products or does your blog receive a good amount of traffic too?

Ask yourself what value your customers are likely to get from your mail, not just about sales. Do they really need to know that you’ve just taken on a new member of staff, for example? As far as services go, this could be something that they’re very interested in, especially if you’re a local company.

Likewise, educational email gives value, perhaps comparing certain products or recipes for foodstuff you sell. Whatever the case, we come back again here to knowing your target audience thoroughly, monitoring social channels for feedback and measuring the response you have had from previous campaigns.

The nuts and bolts of email marketing

The first step to a successful campaign is to create a subject line that will catch the eye. It’s also useful to ensure that the from field identifies you as a trusted source, so make sure you set this up properly.

Subject lines should deliver the following information:

  • Usefulness
  • Urgency – does it entice the reader to open immediately?
  • Be specific, keeping language succinct and relevant to the content
  • Compelling – make sure it’s easy to grasp at a glance and drives some form of action

Don’t make the mistake of putting something like: OPEN NOW FOR ONE-TIME LIMITED OFFER!!  for every mail subject line, people will soon become bored when they realise that your subject lines promise lots and deliver little. Keep all subject lines in context with the content and try to get the fundamentals of the message into as few words as possible.

Email marketing is a cost-effective way of reaching a highly targeted audience which isn’t possible using social media. This is because you don’t generally have the opportunity to communicate one-on-one when it comes to social, so the marketing message is diluted.

Building up a list will help to drive sales and gives you the opportunity to connect with customers on a different level. With the help of a decent CMS, it’s possible to further personalize the process in order to target different groups. This is something that just isn’t possible with social media.

Email marketing is not dying, nor is it used less as other marketing channels have opened up. If anything, it’s evolving to keep up with what consumers expect and allowing for even better targeting.

Every business needs an email marketing campaign. Social has its uses for digital marketing and I’m certainly not saying it shouldn’t be used, like email marketing, to dismiss social is a form of marketing suicide.

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